Jan 13 2013
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says he will not press the panic button - but statistics would suggest he has every right to after his side slipped into the Barclays Premier League bottom three.
Villa can rightly point to a controversial penalty - converted by Rickie Lambert - leading to their downfall in the 1-0 home reversal against fellow strugglers Southampton but their malaise goes much deeper than referee Mark Halsey awarding a spot-kick against Villa defender Enda Stevens for a challenge on Jay Rodriguez when no contact was made.
Lambert said: "You can't panic. There's a long, long way to go. There will be loads of twists and turns in this whole thing."
In their last 38 league games - the equivalent of a full campaign - Villa have managed just five wins and collected only 30 points - clear relegation form.
They are also seven points worse off now than at the same stage last season under the much maligned Alex McLeish and have the worst scoring and defensive records in the top flight this season.
It is damning evidence that shows their current dire position is more than a blip and that 25 years of continual top-flight football is under immense threat.
Lambert added: "We didn't want to be in the bottom three after 22 games but nothing is set in stone in football and you just keep meeting the challenge head on.
"You've just got to keep going. There is no secret formula in football. Better managers than myself will tell you that.
"It is disappointing to lose the way we did via the penalty but that's the way things seem to be going for us at the moment. We are not getting the little breaks you need."